A look at marijuana
News of a Jan. 3 grow-op bust in St. Paul, involving the seizure of about 1,800 marijuana plants, kick-started a discussion on whether such seizures made streets safer, and whether it was time to relax laws on marijuana use and possession.
In poll results released last year, a majority of Canadians at 66 per cent are in favour of the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana. Pot supporters got a boost to their argument after two U.S. states approved the recreational use of marijuana. In fact, according to the Vancouver Sun, Washington is even planning a 25 per cent sales tax on marijuana that could raise as much as $500,000 in revenue, which could partly help finance drug rehab programs.
Last spring, in a Summit of the Americas meeting, Prime Minister Stephen Harper conceded the current approach to the war on drugs is not working, but he has continued to maintain Canada will not reform its pot laws. In fact, his government’s approach has been to introduce stiffer penalties for Canadians who grow even a small number of marijuana plants. However, this involves more policing, court and social costs and one wonders if it is the best use of resources to crack down on marijuana rather than harder drugs. Supporters of the decriminalization and legalization of pot cite three major effects: removing a source of revenue from organized crime; spending less money on drug enforcement of pot specifically; and potentially, more revenue from a government-regulated marijuana-distribution system.
However, as the situation stands right now, there shouldn’t be attacks on the RCMP for doing their job in cracking down on illegal marijuana operations, particularly if those operations jeopardize human safety. The Jan. 3 grow-op bust in St. Paul was no small-time operation, involving hundreds of plants. As well, RCMP stated concerns with electrical hazards and unsafely stored firearms at the property. Even if there is a relaxation of marijuana laws in Canada’s future, illegal and unsafe grow-operations would still need to be policed. RCMP are to be commended for the job they do in this arena.
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